Ms. Margaret Mutsamvi have been chosen as the Change Agent of the Year 2019 because of her dedicated work founding the organization Economic Justice for Women in January 2017, envisioning economic leadership and financial independence amongst young women in Zimbabwe. Read the interview below.
Hi Ms. Margaret Mutsamvi! Congratulations to the award, how do you feel?
When I received the email notifying me of the award, I was shocked, I was not anticipating anything like it. I read the email again before I screamed in celebration. This is my first professional award, ever. I felt a sense of recognition and actually realised that for once, I was celebrating myself. I could not believe that Life Academy was actually tracking my progress post the presentation and submission of the report of the program that I attended in Sweden in 2016 (May –June).
Also I felt an affirmation of my idea, my efforts and our work as an institution. Truly, 2019 was a busy year and set a good traction for the organisation relative to the earlier years. I celebrated the accolade, reflected on how hard I had worked and felt happy to be acknowledged. I felt motivated and encouraged to keep pushing harder. I am happy and feel honoured to receive this award. I immediately remembered that the award was not mine alone, shared the email with the entire office because everyone had put in some effort in making 2019 a recognizable year in our organisation. Quite humbling. Great thanks to Life Academy and all the supporting partners in this regard.
In 2017 you started the organization Economic Justice for Women Project (EJWP) in the Harare South. Can you tell us about the organisation?
The organisation idea builds on structural political and socio-economic injustices that make the economic playfield unequal between men and women. Economic Justice for Women Project is an initiative targeting women between 15 and 35 years of age in contexts that do not allow them to reach their full economic potential as equal economic agents. Our mandate is working towards establishing an equal playfield that puts women at the core of economic development processes towards their economic leadership and independence.
Why focus on the economy?
Empirical evidence shows that poverty wears the face of a woman despite all their hard work while projections also indicate that the economic future of Africa are dependent on women and it is a huge opportunity cost for African economies to continue ignoring the plight of women as economic agents. EJWP programming is centred on capacity strengthening of target group, research and documentation and advocy for gender responsive economic policies.
Ms. Margaret Mutsamvi will be awarded with USD 1000, money to be used for the further work to facilitate the establishment of sustainable organized support of young women to amplify their voices against injustice and optimize derived benefits. Do you have any ideas what the money will be used for?
We are currently running transformational leadership circles in Hopley farm, an informal community in the margins of Harare that was a result of internal displacement in 2005. The 25 young women are going through a series of leadership training sessions, mentorship and we are facilitating that they meet their role model who inspires them through a project titled ‘Harnessing young women optimal capacities to inform and lead socio-economic transformation in Harare South, Hopley community’.
The young girls came to mind when I saw the award letter. If we are to successfully transform them to be leaders in modern day then there is critical need to factor in a digital component as a driver of change and as a relevant cross cutting trigger for development in modern day. The award money will facilitate sessions in basic ICT and digital literacy and security as icing-on-the-cake to their leadership journey. This will not only enable them to effectively lead socio-economic transformation in their community but to do so conscious of modern day Information, Communication and Technologies. We will be planting a seed in them, which Life Academy has planted in me three years ago.
You were a part of the LIFE Academy International training program on ICT and Pedagogical Development 2016C. What knowledge and experiences did you bring from the ICT program?
The Life Academy gave me a true experience of how technology has put the entire world in a pocket and that you can literally do anything on your computer when connected to the web. Of particular relevance to my work was use of project management applications and use of moodle as an interactive learning platform.
When I founded Economic Justice for Women Project, I used my knowledge from the ICT program to build an online profile first before quite establishing on the ground. Through the website and the organisational Facebook page, we managed to draw significant attention to our work and towards our campaigns and our following is rapidly increasing on social media. I also got linked to strategic networks that I am still in touch with them and still benefitting from our exchanges.
Which are you driving force?
Economic Justice for Women Project is an idea inspired and driven by my mother’s life story where the injustice system in the education sector then disallowed her to continue with education after falling pregnant with me in her final ordinary level class. Enert Madamombe had been one of the best students in her class and way better than the classmate who made her pregnant, my father. But just that mistake changed her entire life and she died as a vegetable vendor wallowing in poverty. Fortunately for my father then, he could continue with his education because he did not carry the pregnancy. He grew through the ranks in tertiary education, decided to marry an educated wife and died as a College principal lecturer at Bondolfi Teacher’s college in Masvingo, Zimbabwe. This story continues to remind me of how women with productive potential have been pushed to the margins of the high value economic gains due to the bias in policies, opportunities and factors of production. This is the reason I wake up every morning.
We wish Ms. Margaret Mutsamvi great success and luck in her continued endeavors for a sustainable development.
General Information about Change Agents
A Change Agent is a person, trained by LIFE Academy to act for a sustainable development in their organization and country. There are more than one thousand LIFE Academy Change Agents in 80 countries all over the world that are part of the LIFE Academy global network.
The change agents create true value for their organisations and they have their focus on making changes that are sustainable, with a holistic approach taking both the environment, social and economic issues in consideration.
In the work for our common sustainable future it is very important with role models that can inspire more people to take action for sustainable solutions. To encourage our role models, the change agents in our network, we award a Change Agent of the Year. In 2015, Ms. Fasika Minde was selected as the Change Agent of the year, in 2016, it was Dr. P. Kanagavel that secured the honor and in 2018 Ms. Jackie Namakula received the award.